The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statures of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. ~Psalm 19:8-10, NKJV
The question is inevitable. Every year one of my AWANA kids asks it, usually about the time that they are memorizing the Ten Commandments.
Why does God have so many rules?
It’s interesting to think about this question. Probing it always leads me to dig for the root—where does that question really begin? Why do I think that God has too many rules? Why do I want to know why God has laid out these rules? Why do I have a hard time following them?
The most obvious answer is sin. A rebellious, stubborn heart which yearns for its own way says to the God of these ‘rules,’ you can’t tell me what to do! Or I’ll do it my own way! That would be me, anyway. I don’t like paperwork, rarely follow a recipe, and usually like to figure out things on my own. That’s my stubborn personality (which, believe me, can work out very poorly!).
But, maybe there’s something else playing in this scenario, another root that is causing this nagging question about God and his rules. Perhaps there is, at the very core of this query, a misunderstanding.
I pondered this idea this morning as I was putting my chickens, yet again, back in their yard. Sadly, we can’t let them free-range. We live on the open prairie, and chickens wandering out in the unprotected space are prone to becoming hawk prey. Or coyote food. Or dog toys. We have a nice, big, fenced yard surrounded by trees for our chickens to run and play. But there are a couple of hens who insist that’s not good enough. I can almost hear in their squawking as I corral them back into their dwelling, why do you have this dumb fence, anyway? Why do I have to follow your rules?
Huh. That sounds familiar. The truth is my daughter has been heartbroken when her chickens get picked off. Heart. Broken. We keep them inside the fence so that they are safe, because, bless my little girl’s heart, she loves those feather-heads.
Rules are kind of like that, aren’t they? I’m squawking about the very thing that is intended to keep me anchored in safety. And by doing so, I’m questioning the heart of God.
You don’t want me to have any fun.
I love you, and I don’t want the talons of Satan sinking into your neck.
You think I can’t handle things by myself.
I know the prowling lion who waits to kill and devour.
Oh, feather-hearted soul, don’t misunderstand the heart of God. It is love that sets boundaries. It is grace that outlines the perimeter. Can you not trust the God who spared not his own Son to claim you for his own?